I’ve lived in New York for over 15 years. Most of those years were spent in Harlem. I now split my time between New York City and Miami Beach and I love it. I love them both for different reasons and if you’re looking for those reasons, you can find them here in my New York or Nowhere blog post. I’m usually in New York City a few days out of every month and it’s reignited my excitement for city life. I love to play tourist in my own city and check out the latest art exhibitions, restaurants, shopping boutiques and bars. There is always something to do or see in New York City. That’s arguably why it’s called The City that Never Sleeps, and I’m here to tell you it never does. It can be a gift and a curse depending on whatever mood you’re in that day. I was recently in New York City for a week of discovery. I usually only fly in for work but this trip was all about discovering and venturing to the hottest of everything, that I’d been hearing about for the past few months. So get out you paper and pen or pull up the notes on your phone and take inventory of everything cool in New York City right now.
AESTHETIC PLACES TO EAT WHERE THE FOOD IS ACTUALLY GOOD
Sake No Hana — It’s a Tao Group Restaurant and the ultimate date night spot. It has a super sexy ambience with low light and incredible service. If you love asian fare then this restaurant will delight you at every turn. Go for the miso soup, chili edamame, king crab and wagyu sushi rolls, spicy tuna temaki, the short rib rice with bone marrow and the branzino.
Fandi Mata — It’s a Williamsburg staple and the food is just as good as the day it opened. The ambience is cool and eclectic. The bar is super sexy as well. They also have live music and DJ’s rotating through which makes it a good spot for date night or a girls night out. It’s Mediterranean cuisine and everything is delicious. Go for the meatballs, octopus, Caesar salad (yes it’s that good), Gnocchi with lamb or the Branzino for 2.
Temple Room at The Beekman Hotel — This place is like stepping back in time. It’s definitely giving old world vibes with its decor and mind boggling atrium. It has a classic bar and restaurant filled with ornate chairs, lamps and paintings. If you want the place to yourself, go for a delicious breakfast or an early lunch. For lunch, I’d go with the Chicken Mushroom soup. It’s perfect for a cold winter NYC day.
BARS, SPEAKEASIES & LOUNGES TO POUR IT UP POUR IT UP
Manhatta Bay Room Bar — This downtown bar is absolutely stunning. It’s on the 60th floor and at the entrance they have a coat check. When you exit the elevator on the 60th floor you have an option to your left and to your right. One is the Bay Room which has southern views of New York City. You can even see the Statue of Liberty. This room is more chill because they only serve drinks. The sunset is stunning. On the other end is Manhatta which also has a bar as well as a restaurant. The views are sweeping of uptown New York City with the Brooklyn Bridge as well as the Empire State Building. Order the Goodbye Roses cocktail and watch the sunset in the Bay Room and then pop over to Manhatta for a lively dinner.
Record Room — It’s a new Speak Easy in Long Island City. If definitely a cool spot for 80’s babies. The outside is a coffee shop and yes it’s functioning during the day. At night you are lead through the coffee shop, behind some curtains and a long walkway with records filling the walls, into Record Room. It’s no frills with a few different intimate seating areas, a bar and a DJ Booth where the DJ plays all the old school jams on vinyl. I had an amazing time with friends at Record Room and will definitely be going back. It’s also Black Owned.
Harriet’s Rooftop Restaurant at 1 Brooklyn Bridge Hotel — If I want to impress someone I take them to Harriet’s Rooftop Restaurant for drinks. You can reserve a cozy couch or bar top table with amazing views of downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s one of my favorite views of the city and great for a date night or girls night out.
NEED SOMETHING SWEET? TRY THESE…
Dough Doughnuts — Dough has some of the best donuts in the world. Anytime I’m in New York or Brooklyn I stop by and grab a plain glazed, hibiscus and passionfruit donut. Their doughnuts are thick and fluffy but still manage to be moist!
Magnolia Bakery — This is an NYC staple and it’s all because of their whipped banana pudding. I love it because is so light and fluffy and not too sweet with bananas and vanilla wafers. They also have a massive assortment of cakes, cupcakes and cookies.
Capri Bakery — If you’re uptown in Spanish Harlem, hit up Capri Bakery on 116th street. Their breakfast is divine but the star of the show is their Tres Leches cakes. Anytime someone is having an event or birthday I go a buy a small Tres Leches fresh Fruit Cake and it’s always a hit!
WHERE TO SHOP INDIE DESIGNERS, LUXURY CONSIGNMENT & LUXURY DISCOUNTS
Flying Solo — There are a few locations in Soho and anytime I’m in New York, I pop in to check out the latest from independent designers. I always find cool bags, clothing and jewelry. These are the kinds of pieces you haven’t seen before. Definitely put this on your list of must visits if you’re a true fashion girlie. They even put on a fashion show during New York Fashion Week.
What Goes Around Comes Around — Has 2 locations in Soho, NYC and they are both chock full of archive pre-loved luxury pieces. I’ve gotten several of my vintage bags from them, whether in store or online. They are super thorough and trusted as well. If you love vintage Chanel, Hermes and Dior then this will be a haven! The buyers are geniuses and source one of a kind pieces.
Century 21 Department Store— This used to be my spot and then it closed but luckily it has reopened and I’ve managed to find some deeply discounted designer pieces over the last year! I’m talking Saint Laurent to Bottega Veneta. It can be a hit or miss so visit at least once every few months.
MY HARLEM FAVORITES
Field Trip Harlem — This is my go-to. I could eat here every day of my life. The roasted chicken bowl with jollof rice, collard greens and avocado sauce is heaven sent. I also love the braised beef bowl as well. They also have quite a few vegetarian options.
Lucille’s Harlem — This neighborhood cafe feels like a warm hug. Get the breakfast sandwich and Mikes Hot Chai Tea Latte. Everything on the menu is stellar and it’s an aesthetic environment to bring your laptop and get a little work done as well.
Melba’s — Anytime I have an itch for southern cooking (I am a born and raised North Carolina girl), I visit Melba’s. I love their Catfish, Yams and Macaroni and Cheese. The food continues to be incredible after all my years of living in Harlem.
Levain Bakery — For a delicious cookie that will melt in your mouth…this French Bakery that set up a location in Harlem, is the one and not the two!
Go ahead and drop all of your favorites places in New York City in the comments. I’m always looking for new restaurants to try and places to shop. I’d love for the comments section to be a resource for those visiting New York City and looking for the coolest things to do and see.
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